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Baby Immune System Development
The Training Process – Aerobics for Natural Immunity!
The process of developing natural immunity is often misunderstood and misrepresented. Somehow, we got this idea that humans are to live completely free of infections, sailing through life, no pain, no suffering, ignoring body symptoms and popping pills to alleviate them. How do the animals in the wild survive without pills, potions and hospitals? I believe that we misunderstand symptoms in the body that are uncomfortable and label them as “bad” when perhaps they are just the way “Mother Nature” makes us strong and adaptable. The immune system develops by multiple exposures through the mouth, nose and lungs as we breathe and eat. This is the natural portal-of- entry into the body and occasionally as children grow they may get a cut, wound or insect bite in the skin. The immune system in an infant is underdeveloped and must be developed over time to be efficient at taking care of the business of health. Infants get exposed to all bacteria, fungus’s, spores, viruses, infectious illnesses by their mouth, nose and ears and lungs. Millions of times daily a newborn is responding to foreign things from its environment.
3 Basic Lines of Defense
There are 3 basic lines of defense: (1.) skin, mucosal membrane, tears, urine (2) fevers & Inflammation and (3) acquired or adaptive immunity.
- Skin : Is the largest organ in the body and part of the integumentary system and the first line of defense. It is made up of multiple layers and protects the muscles, bones, ligaments and internal organs. Because it is exposed to the environment, it plays a key role in protecting the body. It is also porous so it takes in toxins and also excretes toxins. It protect against excessive water loss and helps with temperature regulation. It allows us to feel and also protects Vitamin D folates. The immune system excretes toxins through the skin which may result in rashes. (Chickenpox, measles, allergies…) Mucosal membranes include the nostrils, mouth, lips eyelids, ears, genitalia area and the anus. Many are connected to the glands and produce mucus, which is traps pathogens in the body to prevent further activity of that pathogen.
- Fevers and Inflammation : For years, the fever was feared and parents were told to treat the fever with medication to bring it down. Consider this amazing “Mother Nature” fact:
A. At 102 degrees fever the body produces Interferon which is a protein that prevents viral replication and inhibits cancer cells. Interferon: a natural fighter released to do some miraculous job in the body to maintain health and balance!
B. At 103 degrees, the body stores all nutrition in the spleen to starve bacteria. Bacteria have a very shallow variance of temperature they can live in…again, another “Mother Nature” fact that is often misunderstood. This may be when the baby refuses to eat and is suffering with nausea and/or diarrhea. The child may feel weak and be fussy but realize that “Mother Nature” is doing her job to bring them back to balance. Most childhood illnesses that result in fevers last a few days and will resolve without any medical interventions. (See article on the role of the fever) If you have concerns about a fever, consult with your physician. Many are now acknowledging the role of the fever and no longer recommend fever reducers because of new studies showing how fever reducers with Acetaminophen are very harmful. Read Adverse Effects of Acetaminophen
C. Inflammation : A very important part of immunity, without inflammation, cuts, wounds, sprained joints and infections cannot heal. Inflammation is a part of a complex biological response of vascular tissues in response to some sort of harmful stimuli: damages cells, bacteria, foreign particles (sliver of wood, bee sting, cuts…) sprang joints etc. It is one of the first responders to injury and best if left alone to do its work! Acute inflammation will be present until the healing process is done. It is part of the innate immunity process.
- Acquired or Adaptive Immunity : The adaptive immunity is triggered in people when the pathogens are engaged with the innate (TH1) immune system fighting an illness or injury. (Pathogen: bacteria, viruses, fungus and yeast). The TH2 arm is where acquired immunity is developed and requires many exposures to those pathogens over the course of time to mature. Once a person has been exposed to certain illnesses, (pathogen) several times during the first 7 years of life, they will build natural immunity. The body will know how to effectively deal with that pathogen when it comes in contact with it in adulthood.
How Babies Get Exposed to the Pathogens
It is no accident that babies put everything in the mouth; they start very early tasting everything and this will increase as they begin to teethe! This is the way the internal body gets to know about the environment the baby is living in! When they begin to expose themselves to the many different pathogens in their environment, the immune system (TH1) kicks into action and the process to identify, attack and eliminate the foreign pathogens begins. As the immune system engages, the mucus membranes, glands, lymph system and other parts of the immune system begin to work and symptoms begin to appear. This is exactly how “Mother Nature” is intended to function in the body.
Symptoms of Natural Immunity at Work
It is common for babies to have runny noses, fevers, swollen glands and body rashes as the immune system filters foreign invaders out to the different excreting portals. They are getting exposed thousands of times daily to this environment and they must learn to adopt and thrive in spite of that environment! This is all part of normal natural immune development. If you were crawling on the floor, putting strange things in your mouth that we as adults know are not clean or good for us, you too would find yourself presenting with symptoms and running fevers! The allopathic model (medical model) has everyone convinced that this is “sickness” and that these children need to be treated with medications or drugs (chemicals that alter the body causing an opposite effect) in order to recover. I am always amazed at the arrogance of man to think he can improve on what nature has created! Because of modern medicine, people are now running around with all kinds of illnesses as adults because they were not allowed to develop natural life-long immunity.
Here is a profound statement: “Nothing gets strengthen in the human body by avoidance…only by overcoming challenges”. I am not sure who said that but this is so true in all of life. The immune system takes about 5-7 years to develop and if respected, and not interfered with a child will have strong immunity.
Keep in mind, this is the “ideal scenario” and sometimes, we are not able to have the best scenario. Understanding basic immunology and how the body is protected is helpful to understand childhood illnesses.
(If a parent feels there is reason for concern, they should consult a physician of choice or look at other natural healing modalities to increase comfort for the child.)